As I write right now, I am watching the coverage of the inauguration of Pope Francis. I was struck by its’ sense of simplicity and yet a sense of hope. He invoked the word “Esperanza” a number of times and reminded the whole World about having a sense of goodness and tenderness for all. There needs to be a sense of simplicity and a sense of forgiveness that needs to be the order of the day. There was a sense of not being afraid.
As I understand it, the Pope chose the day of the Feast day of St. Joseph for his inauguration. Despite the majesty of the moment, I was struck by how simple it all was. To me, this is critical as a new era begins for the Catholics around the World. Pope Francis does take over a church that has some profound challenges before it. I also understand that he’s already made his first major decision not to permanently appoint the Senior Leadership of the Curia and allow the existing leadership to serve until he makes determinations. It shows that he intends to make profound changes in how the Church. He’s now officially the 266th Pope.
Beyond this transformation, though, today is also another grim anniversary: 10 years ago today George W. Bush launched the invasion of Iraq. The opposition to the war in Iraq was the impetus for me to launch Outsiders. I was especially struck by the sheer nerve that Tony Blair had when he talked about “no regrets”. I wonder what answers he has for the orphans of Iraq. I wonder what response he has for all the British and American brave men and women who took up the call to serve and will never be the same. I wonder what he, George W. Bush, Jose Maria Anzar and the rest of the leadership who made the fateful decision to go into Iraq will now say. This is as Iraq is no more–and is only a country in name only and broken. Joe Scaraborough, on Morning Joe, asked whether Iraqis are better off than they were. David Iganaius talked about the legacy of George W. Bush and how ‘Stable” Iraq became. I reject that assertion because it is not supported by the facts on the ground. The Iranians won the peace and the The Turks have won the Economic War. After 4500 death, 30,000 injured, 3 Trillion Dollars of direct costs and trillions of indirect cost, was it worth it? The answer is no. Richard Haas says something very clearly: Understand local realities and respect them. I wonder if George W. Bush understands it now. I was shocked when I heard Bob Woodward talked about the fact George W. Bush did not even bother to ask either Collin Powell or Donald Rumsfield actually thought about whether they should go to War because he said, “I know what they thought”. Really?
What is critical to observe in all of this is the current debate on Iran. Barack Obama has gone on to Israel for a State Visit. As he geared up for his State Visit, he talked about how “all options were on the table”: http://t.co/EgnDlnTJxo. Iran is faced with a Presidential Election as it also continues to deal with profound economic challenges. It has, interestingly enough, continued to flex its’ military muscle in a major way too by the deployment of its’ Second Domestically Built Destroyer in the Caspian Sea and developing its’ military capabilities. Iran is also going to be “going dark” for about two weeks as it celebrates the new year. Hopefully there will no profound “surprises” for at least two weeks before the elections seasons begin.
Beyond the immediate, there is also the on-going challenges in Europe. As I also write this, Cyprus is in the midst of a Banking Holiday. The European Union has approved a 13 Billion Dollar Rescue Plan. The only way the rescue plan is going to work is to have a one time 6% tax on people’s savings. The people made runs on the banks which forced the Government of Cyprus to shut the banks as they try to figure out a different way to do this. What is clear is that if Cyprus falls, other dominoes will fall as well.
I have also been continuing my assessment of China. China finished its’ once in a decade leadership transition. The New President talked about a a sense of renewal as the new Premier of the State Council (Cabinet) reiterated its’ commitment to austerity and Democracy and by leading by example.
As I conclude this latest “outsiders” snapshot, I wonder about legislation on Gun Control. It appears that all the hope that I had after the Newton Tragedy for some source of Gun Control Legislation will be in vain. The Assault Weapons Ban will apparently not be part of any legislation at all. Even if something passes through the US Senate, it will die in the House. It will be simply tragic.
A Challenging World….but ever more hopeful as Spring arrives!!!